This week, we are talking about the issue of violence against girls and what Girl Up is doing to help make a difference. Some of the most at-risk girls are forced into marriage or relationships when they are still young children.
In countries like in the U.S., you have to be at least 18 years old before you can walk down the aisle, but in some developing countries, girls are becoming brides as young as five! Child marriage (marriage before age 18), devastates the lives of girls, their families, and their communities. If a girl is going to school, she can be forced to leave to get married, and she has fewer opportunities.
What’s more is that child marriage is also a health issue. The girls can have health problems like contracting HIV/AIDS, and they have a higher chance of medical problems or even dying from having children so early.
Did you know that in Malawi nearly half of all girls are married before they are 18? A Malawi Girl Guides Association chapter is using community theatre to show that girls have more potential than just through marriage. The Girl Guides performed a skit of a young girl whose family wanted to marry her to an older man in exchange for money, food, and gifts from the new husband.
The Girl Guides told the girl she didn’t have to get married – she deserved to stay in school and marry when she was older. They also convinced her father, and the marriage was canceled. The play was honest about the issues (and also quite funny), but most importantly, it was a way for community leaders to really hear how girls felt about the issue.
Girl Up is working with the UN and partners all over the world to bring an end to child marriage. Through programs like Malawi Girl Guides, we hope that these girl leaders will prove that the worth of a girl should be measured not in bride price, but rather in how her intelligence and skills, and how they will have a long-term positive impact on the health of her family and community.